Sir Jimmy Savile, psychopath
Guest article by PAUL WOOD
I think Jimmy Savile’s rapes were less about desire than the desire for power, and the psychopath’s eternal desire to spoil and break things, which is the way he proves his power – especially to spoil innocence.
Jimmy Savile was a very big British television star even when I was at primary school and then very famous for raising money for charity. He was a talentless, boring TV presenter and physically repellent too, but he was famous for being famous, a synthetic fame manufactured by the BBC, who therefore are in a sense to blame for his crimes, since BBC employees had heard the stories. The English never took him to their heart, as they have taken such odd or unrighteous people as Barbara Windsor, Elizabeth Hurley or Stephen Fry, but he became rich, was knighted by the Queen and by the Pope, and he got Cardinal Hume to put him up for the Athenaeum. (He bought a suit to wear there.) Margaret Thatcher invited him for Christmas dinner year after year (imagine what fun those dinners must have been). He gave advice to the Prince of Wales on his marital problems. I always disliked him, without thinking about it, and now, it turns out, so did almost everyone else.
The allegations of his interfering with girls in their early teens for years are heart-rending and pretty clearly true, alas. What is chilling is how institutions like the BBC, hospitals and the police seem to have protected him. There are also rumours floating around that he was a necrophiliac who was given admittance to hospital morgues. He died in November and was buried, after a three day celebration of his life and a funeral in the Catholic cathedral at Leeds, in a golden coffin encased in concrete, “so that the grave couldn’t and wouldn’t be opened again”. He clearly knew full well that people would desecrate his grave. One feels that somewhere he is laughing about all this.
Evil is a fact. The scientific words are psychopathic, or sociopathic, which mean the same thing. I do not know for sure whether Jimmy Savile was a psychopath, but it certainly looks that way. He had the desire for attention, promiscuity, glibness, grandiosity, extreme manipulativeness and hunger for power of one. The cigar perpetually in his mouth – he was permitted to smoke even in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, for which he raised funds – was a symbol that ordinary rules did not apply to him. Perhaps it was a phallic symbol too, flaunted at us all. He usually wore a track suit and his Order of Knighthood on a ribbon around his neck. One of his victims is convinced that he wore the track suit so that he could peel it off immediately. Psychopathy is not an illness, please be clear – simply the lack of a conscience. Nor is evil an illness. Evil is a fact of life, gentle reader. Read some history or some police reports.
Somehow, because he was so very familiar to all of us, part of all our lives, and because most of us had heard the stories (I certainly had, several times over the years), we feel implicated ourselves. He groomed us all. And Savile in the pictures now looks exactly like the child’s idea of a terrifying vampire, warlock or demon – so obviously sinister, power-mad and insidious. How could we not have seen it? But we didn’t.
England seems to me to be dangerously child-obsessed (children and health have filled the void left long ago by Anglicanism) and, despite cases like this, far too obsessed with child molestation (I do not like the word paedophilia, coined by the culprits to excuse their crimes). Yet we treat children so badly in so many ways: aborting babies; leaving children with strangers while mothers work to pay the bills; bringing up children with a succession of step-fathers; giving children sex education (and probably instruction in not disapproving of homosexual acts) at primary school; giving them the pill and condoms on demand.
On the subject of interfering with children, by the way, during Oscar Wilde’s trial a rent-boy in his bed who looked fourteen was mentioned. Wilde is regarded by many as some kind of martyr, but he was no martyr. He would, rightly, be sent down today and incur even more obloquy.
What very odd and often vile people flourish in the media and the arts, especially in the pop world and for that matter on British television. Here are a couple of extracts from Jimmy Savile’s 1976 memoirs, Love Is An Uphill Thing. Did nobody read it since 1976? How attitudes have changed since that ghastly, seedy, sleazy era. The whole free love thing was about men exploiting young women and girls. Feminism, which has done a great deal of harm, can be congratulated for cleaning out some of these Augean stables:
“A high ranking lady police officer came in one night and showed me the picture of an attractive girl who had run away from a remand home. ‘Ah’ says I all serious, ‘if she comes in I’ll bring her back tomorrow but I’ll keep her all night first as my reward’. The law lady, new to the area, was nonplussed. Back at the station she asked ‘Is he serious?’
“It is God’s truth that the absconder came in that night. Taking her into the office I said, ‘Run now if you want but you can’t run for the rest of your life’. She listened to the alternative and agreed that I hand her over if she could stay at the dance, come home with me, and that I would promise to see her when they let her out. At 11.30 the next morning she was willingly presented to an astounded lady of the law. The officer was dissuaded from bringing charges against me by her colleagues, for it was well known that were I to go I would probably take half the station with me…
“Let me tell you about the fun part of the charity deal. I got a call one day from the chairman of a local council. He’d got a new idea for the annual mayoral ball and wanted to turn it into a big youth dance, and would I come? For years the affair had been just a bit stuffy and only attracted a couple of hundred locals. He wanted 2,000 and did I have any ideas? Sure I had. Good ideas are my strong point. I will come, to Otley in Yorkshire it was, if you will arrange for me to sleep in a tent up the local hillside with another tent alongside with six girls to sleep there as my bodyguards!
“My demands really put the dance on the map and 2,000 tickets went like hot cakes. My ultimatum of ‘no tents, no girls, no me’ meant the council had to go through with it.
“A notice for volunteers in the paper brought well over a hundred lady applicants, all determined to spend a night on the moors. The council had to decide which six, so they called a special meeting. Some of the members only then realised what they were doing. ‘We can’t have a council meeting to decide which six of our girls sleep with this man’, said several, more bewildered than outraged. So half the council left and half stayed. Six girls were selected and all of them were given matching mini skirts and white boots, as befitting a ceremonial bodyguard. They looked good enough to eat. I duly arrived in the town and it was the start of an incredible evening. The first thing was that the father of one of the girls arrived and hauled her off home. She protested loudly but dad would have none of this preposterous situation. For company I had brought along a millionaire pal who just didn’t believe my story. When he saw the crumpet his eyes shot out a mile and his total conversation for the evening was an incredulous ‘Are we kipping with them?’
“Technically no, as we were in the tent next door. Or were supposed to be. The dance finished in spectacular, never-before and certainly never-since fashion, and the moment of truth was upon us. What follows must be the greatest ever. It was raining but who cared. The tents had been erected in the afternoon in a secret glade known only to the chairman. The blankets and suchlike were kept in his house to avoid damp or theft. At 3.0 a.m. an unbelievable sight appeared in the sleeping town. Several cars, headed by the mayoral one, drove to the foot of the hill, a local beauty spot known as the Chevin. From the cars climb out a dozen people: five girls, me and my pal, the chairman, his wife and equerry. On our heads we carry our blankets, and in single file, like Sherpa porters, we set up off to the tents. I was convulsed with laughter and with a real pain.”
It was all in the public domain all the time.
The story of Savile is profoundly shocking but perhaps it should not shock us. Sigmund Freud reminded us:
“Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion?”
PAUL WOOD writes from Bucharest. A version of this article first appeared on his blog
POSTSCRIPT A strange coincidence. Paedophilia has a tendency to make people believe in all sorts of strange conspiracy theories of the kind that infest the internet. The record of the trial of the Yorkshire Ripper, whom we saw in the photograph above, includes this sentence – “Mr Sutcliffe also told police he left the murder scene after he heard voices, but couldn’t tell where they came from. He also heard a car being driven away from the entrance to a house. Later he found out that the house was where disc jockey Jimmy Savile lived”